How to Build Social Media Relationships

Social Media BLOGIf you believe it is impossible to engage in authentic social media relationships, you may not have experienced authentic social media relationships. Genuine interaction with others is essential to establishing and sustaining trust with others.

Relationship-building takes time. There are no shortcuts. If you are honest about who you are, what you value, and what principles you stand for, you stand on a strong foundation that reflects trust – which will result in greater networking contacts and referrals.

It does not take long for others to distinguish authentic invitations of interest and fishhooks that bait us to purchase a product or service. Someone recently questioned me about my career as a professional speaker. At first, I thought he was genuinely interested in my work to help others use social media to establish themselves as thought leaders in their fields. It did not take me long to realize he was waiting for the right moment to tell me he could help me expand my business (whether his help was asked for or needed … or not). For a price.

Insincerity feels oily and sticky. It motivates people to run away when they see you coming. Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneurial extraordinaire and author of The Art of the Start 2.0, insists, “When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight.”

I have not met a single entrepreneur who does not have a marketing or social media faux pas story to tell. Present company included. But social media also provides us with many opportunities to share what we have learned with others. J. Mattern explains that social media etiquette is “less about manners and more about basic common sense.” His tips include:

1.  DON’T criticize others. Keep your disapproval to yourself. Negative criticism can come back to haunt you. It backfires and draws negative attention. Focus on expressing your message, your work, and your unique point of view.

2.  DO think before speaking. Social media has a permanent memory. Think first. Make sure what you post aligns with your values and the message you want to transmit to the world.

3.  DO personalize messages and introductions. When you connect with someone new, introduce yourself. Make a great first impression.

4.  DON’T post without engaging others. Social media is a two-way street. Interact with others. Comment on posts. Ask questions.

5.  DO network outside your circle. When you engage only with those who share your opinions and passions, you limit yourself to a specific audience and miss out on opportunities to discover new ideas and different points of view. Explore comments and posts from individuals with varied interests.

6.  DON’T bombard followers with automated messages. The fastest way to push others away is to blast them with all of the possible ways they can learn more about you, you, you. It’s not about you; it’s about them.

7.  DO use your real name whenever possible. When you anonymously interact with others, you represent a vague entity. A name reflects a person with values, personality, and a viable means of connection.

8.  DON’T excessively link to your own site(s). Excessive links reflect shameless self-promotion and results in overkill. Links to your own site on someone else’s wall or page is rude. Others will assume you are trapping them with spam.

9.  DO try to make your tweets comprehensible. Avoid txt spk. Abbreviate when necessary, but use words others can understand.

10.  DON’T “unfollow” people when they don’t follow you. Be open to opportunities to connect with and learn from others. Do not assume someone who does not follow you today won’t follow you tomorrow.

11.  DO repost interesting blog posts, articles, and information composed by others. When you limit sharing to your own material, you bore readers and appear arrogant. Sharing information is a great way to learn, enlighten others and invite new relationships.

As social media evolves, an increasing number of people use social media marketing as a one-way communication channel to showcase themselves. Jennifer Kane explains, “Narcissism is unbecoming (and unhealthy).” She reminds us that the purpose of social media is to communicate and connect with other. She adds, “So don’t forget to talk to people, too.”

“You can use social media for marketing and you can increase your sales figures from it, but it can’t be your focus 100% of the time,” explains Nellie Akalp, CEO of “As a general rule of thumb, only 5% to 10% of your social media activity should be self-promotional.” She also explains, “Social media is all about building relationships and growing trust. This means answering questions, providing helpful information, and serving as a trusted resource.”  

I admit that promotional restraint was something I had to learn. Although I have been a speaker and teacher for many years, I dived into the social media pool several years ago with little experience about how to navigate social media waters. I learned social media etiquette by watching and learning from social media experts and mentors whose opinions I value. As a result, I became less concerned about tooting my own horn and more concerned about posting meaningful content and sharing in ways that reflected my core values.  

Check out the ultimate social media resource guideThe Art of Social Mediaby Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick.

How do you connect and build strong social media relationships with others?

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